Contradictions from the “right”

Author: Barrett Rainey

If pressed for the most apt definition of the word “contradiction,” there’s no better one in our times than the Republican far right. What passes for philosophy with too many denizens of that political swamp is espousing one set of ideals while working feverishly against them – wrapping oneself in the law and our founding documents while deliberately attacking both.

For many years, the clearest example of these philosophical cheap shots have been ceaseless attacks on women and the extremely personal topic of abortion. While decrying the intrusion of all forms of government in our private lives, these same voices have demanded an agency of government be represented in gynecological examining rooms where only physicians and their patients belong. To be in the home as a family struggles with intimate – and completely private – decisions. The total contrariness of that position is a hallmark of the far right.

Likewise, voting rights. The assurance of the individual franchise – guaranteed since our beginnings – has become another example of complete contradiction with a sizeable portion of the Republican right. More than a dozen states under GOP political control have tried to legislatively abridge voting access for all but themselves. Some have done so with new laws sure to be challenged. Several bills have even been introduced in Congress to do the same. While loudly proclaiming the polling privilege as “the cornerstone of our liberties,” some of the same voices have been attempting to exclude Americans who don’t “think” as they do. Or have a different skin color.

Now comes religion – the newest outright challenge to a most basic right granted to all of us in the Bill of Rights. The prohibition can’t be clearer:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

In North Carolina – where Republicans control the legislature – one of their number dropped a bill in the House basket to “establish Christianity as the state religion.” While a number of Republicans signed on as co-sponsors, the Speaker of the House stopped formal introduction. This time.

So, were these GOPers just a few nuts? Will we see similar attempts elsewhere? Is there a constituency for this abortive – and patently illegal – challenge to our Bill of Rights? One answer may surprise you. A new national HuffingtonPost/YouGov poll found 34% sampled favored establishing Christianity as the official state religion where they lived. Among those who called themselves Republican, the total was 55%. More than half! In another finding, 46% of Republicans supported officially changing our federal Constitution to allow it.

These are just three examples of voices fanatically claiming undying support for our Founding Fathers and their legal handiwork while trying to violate it. In some states, where Republicans control legislative affairs, you can bet they’re going to keep at it. The evidence continues to come in.

The voting issue, for example. Several states have cut voting hours, reduced the number of polling places, shorted the time to register or stopped same-day registration. Some even argued at the U.S. Supreme Court that they should be released from restrictions placed on them a few decades ago by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Their claim? “Well, maybe we were bad guys back then but we’ve changed.” The Justices are currently mulling over that argument. Given the several recent Republican state efforts outlined above, how would you decide?

Another destructive facet of Republican nut world is a threat to the “united” in United States. Take establishing a religion. The “thinking” in North Carolina is, since the federal Constitution stops Congress from creating a national religion, nothing should prevent creating one by a state. Likewise, since Congress won’t act to stop abortions nationally, they’ll just do it in the state. Voting rights? “We’ll do it ourselves, thank you very much.”

So, we see a developing patchwork of issues illegal in all states being established in some. What’s not allowed federally is being tried state by state. Idaho and Utah are two attempting to disassociate themselves in several ways from the federal government. Both want to take title to all federally owned lands within their borders. Neither state could afford to be a good steward of all that property. It won’t happen. But they keep trying.

It’s all part of this “nullification” business. The GOP far right is trying to separate some states the party controls politically from union with the others on specific issues. Most constitutional scholars think the Civil War settled that subject. The problem is many of those reviving the arguments either have not read the Constitution or the Bill of Rights they swear they love or think they’re smart enough to get around 150 years of jurisprudence.

God, I hope they’re wrong!

Comments are closed.